Leisur::Hive
3 Ton Edition (Actual Size)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

A mini-album from those consummate art-punks, Leisur::Hive, and a spiky little beast it is too. Here they come, shoving out a sound as dense as early Wire, clattering the drums like the dustbins down Top Cat’s alley, slashing at guitars as abrasive as Brillo pads. Leisur::Hive are tense and stroppy, cerebral and snotty in equal measures - just the way a band should be.

‘Try To Be Still’ opens things up, a nervy shimmer of violin over a bedrock of don’t-mess-with-me drums. Then ‘On Sectional Pad’ barges in, flailing about wildly, fuzzed out and freaked out. ‘Get Clean’ is a sinister lope, built around a two-note bassline that seems to frown out from a tangle of noise, while a curiously otherworldly voice lets out a petulant wail.

‘Aeroplane’ is a piano-led mood piece, muttered voices and glitches colliding in the background. Whether it actually has anything to do with aeroplanes is a conundrum you’ll have to work out for yourself.  Leisur::Hive aren’t about to make things too easy for the listener. But, having said that, ‘The Opaque’, paradoxically, is an immediate connection.  It’s perhaps the nearest thing to a straightforward indie-ish song we have here, and proof, if we needed it, that Leisur::Hive can do catchy and accessible with the best of ‘em. Mind you, the way the song goes into a big, dense, scary build-up towards the end is likely to have the indie kids running to their Libertines records for sanctuary.

‘Neck Decision’ is the big anthem, a huge and fearsome racket, with a manic, sardonic vocal set back behind the heavy artillery of bass and drums, and all bulked out by a massive wall of guitar. And finally, ‘Waiting Rooms’, which rumbles like vintage PiL, the rhythm punctuated by an assertive, ever-repeating, metallic ‘Bam! Bam!’ while the bass dashes about like a mugger looking for victims.

If it’s a big, bad abrasive noise you’re looking for, always built upon solid-as-concrete bass and drums rhythms, then Leisur::Hive certainly deliver. But they’re not just noise merchants. Somewhere in the cacophony is a skewed songwriting ethic, a pop sensibility that always ensures the songs have structure, hooks, and even, on special occasions, catchy choruses. That’s the trademark Leisur::Hive balancing act. They walk a tightrope between between pop and noise, strop and poise, and they certainly don’t put a foot wrong here.

The tunestack:
Try To Be Still
On Sectional Pad
Get Clean
Aeroplane
The Opaque
Neck Decision
Waiting Rooms

The players:
Daniel Knowler: Voice, guitar, sampler, percussion, piano
Maria Vellanz: Guitar, violin, dictataphone, bass, autoharp, percussion, voice
Mark Bishop: Bass, microphones, noises
Bob Leith: Drums, percussion

The website:  http://www.leisur-hive.co.uk

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to

11/29/04